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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 674 pages of information about The Well at the World's End.

Said Katherine:  “Dear lord and gossip, wilt thou not tell me more thereof now?”

“What!” said Ralph; “shall I not sleep to-night?”

“Dear gossip,” she said, “thou art over-mighty to need sleep.  And ah!  I had forgotten in the joy of our meeting that to-morrow thou goest to battle; and how if thou come not again?”

“Fear nought,” said Ralph; “art thou not somewhat foreseeing?  Dost thou not know that to-morrow or the day after I shall come back unhurt and victorious; and then shall both thou and Clement come to Upmeads and abide there as long as ye will; and then shall I tell thee a many tales of my wanderings; and Ursula my beloved, she also shall tell thee.”

Katherine reddened somewhat, but she said:  “Would I might kiss her feet, dear lord.  But now, I pray thee, tell me somewhat, now at once.”

“So shall it be,” said Ralph, “since thou wilt have it, dear gossip; but when I have done I shall ask thee to tell me somewhat, whereof hath long been wonder in my mind; and meseemeth that by the time we are both done with tales, I shall needs be putting on my helm again.—­Nay, again I tell thee it is but a show of battle that I go to!”

So then he went and sat by Clement’s side, and began and told over as shortly as might be the tidings of his journeys.  And oft she wept for pity thereat.

But when he was done and he had sat beholding her, and saw how goodly a woman she was, and how straight and well knit of body, he said:  “Gossip, I wonder now, if thou also hast drunk of the Well; for thou art too fair and goodly to be of the age that we call thee.  How is this!  Also tell me how thou camest by this pair of beads that seem to have led me to the Well at the World’s End?  For as I said e’en now, I have long marvelled how thou hadst them and where.”

“Fair sir,” said Clement, “as for her drinking of the Well at the World’s End, it is not so; but this is a good woman, and a valiant, and of great wisdom; and such women wear well, even as a well-wrought piece of armour that hath borne many strokes of the craftsman’s hand, and hath in it some deal of his very mind and the wisdom of him.  But now let her tell thee her tale (which forsooth I know not), for night is growing old.”

CHAPTER 28

Dame Katherine Tells of the Pair of Beads, and Whence She Had Them

Katherine cast friendly looks on them and said:  “Gossip, and thou, Clement, I will make a clean breast of it once for all.  In the days when I was first wedded to Master Clement yonder, he found his bed cold without me, for he was a hot lover; therefore would he often have me with him on his journeys, how hard soever or perilous the way might be.  Yea, Clement, thou lookest the sooth, though thou sayest it not, I was nought loth thereto, partly because I would not grieve thee, my man; but partly, and belike mostly, because I was wishful to see the ways of the

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